Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Scott L. Decker

Abstract

Working memory (WM) has been shown to be closely related to measures of achievement and intelligence, as well as attention, illustrating the critical role WM plays in the learning process. Understanding the typical developmental trajectory of WM is essential if professionals are to recognize and intervene when a child’s WM development shows signs of delay. The current study evaluated the development of WM in a crosssectional sample of 303 children, adolescents, and adults from ages 6 through 25 years. The study utilized a comprehensive measure of WM, assessing verbal, static visualspatial, and dynamic visual-spatial WM capacity across various processing demands. Results provide support for previous studies indicating a linear trajectory of WM development from childhood to adolescence. However, in all but one instance (i.e. static visual-spatial WM), WM development did not show the anticipated quadratic relationship with age. The developmental trajectory of verbal WM appears to increase linearly through at least early adulthood, while the trajectory of dynamic visual-spatial WM shows a more complex relationship, with WM development declining slightly in midadolescence before increasing again in early adulthood. The impact of processing demand on WM development was also assessed across domains. Overall, WM development appears to be largely unaffected by processing demand, with the exception of staticvisual spatial WM tasks. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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